As the winter gear gets pulled out of summer hibernation and the first whiff of fall starts to seep into the ever-shortening summer mornings, it’s clear that Old Man Winter is just around the corner. While some may lament the end of long, lethargic days, we’re pulling out the maps, dreaming of old snowy haunts, and hyping up our dogs for all the adventure to come (yes, we’re convinced that they know what we’re saying). For us, our four-legged adventure companions aren’t just an accessory to the fun, they are the windows through which we experience winter excursions in a whole new way—they match our excitement levels, remind us to appreciate the long, strenuous miles, and they somehow persuade us to take the long loop instead of the shorter one.
But heading out into the cold—especially if the landscape is steep or prone to avalanche or frozen bodies of water—necessitates a much smarter approach to bringing along your pup and keeping her safe. An incredible array of breeds slobbers across the face of the Earth, and not all are naturally equipped to thrive in freezing conditions. While this may go without saying, some breeds won’t need any extra gear to come along on a snowy excursion, and some may need paw wax, a coat, and perhaps an easy out if they get too cold. You know your dog best, so use your best judgment. If you’re not quite sure what she can handle, keep the adventures short at first, and attempt more ambitious adventures in time. And stock up on the Winter Essentials for your Adventure Dog.
Finally, as always, it’s critically important to practice the principles of Leave No Trace no matter what kind of winter adventure you two get into. Always aim to leave the trail better than you found it.
Explore the adventure suggestions below, but before heading out, make sure you carefully study the weather report to ensure you don’t get stuck in a storm. Likewise, take careful note of particular rules around dogs, which sometimes change with the seasons. When in doubt, make sure you check online and at ranger stations before you embark.